In Vote after Vote, US House Saber-Rattles Toward Iran

Jonathan Cohn
6 min readApr 23, 2024

In light of increased tensions between Israel and Iran, with Israel attacking the Iranian embassy in Syria and Iran’s retaliating with a missile attack, the US House sought to increase, rather than defuse, tensions with a series of votes last week.

It began on Monday, when the House voted 294 to 105 for the No U.S. Financing for Iran Act.

As the 12 of the 23 Democrats who opposed the bill in committee (led by ranking member Maxine Waters) explained in their dissent, the bill is not necessary to prevent Iran from accessing cash through Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) at the International Monetary Fund. In fact, what it would actually do is prevent any country from receiving SDRs, thereby inflicting harm on developing countries. The bill would also hamstring US small businesses seeking support from the Export-Import Bank by imposing burdensome requirements.

206 Republicans and 88 Democrats voted for the bill. 104 Democrats and Republican Tom Massie opposed it.

Here are the 88 Democrats who (disappointingly) voted for it:

And here are the 104 who (correctly) opposed it:

On Tuesday, the House voted 391 to 34 to pass a bill that seeks to deter hostage-taking by Iran through the imposition of sanctions and other penalties, but which includes an extreme provision calling for a ban on US travel to Iran.

Voting NO were Republican Tom Massie and the following 33 Democrats:

On Wednesday, the House passed four bills to continue their desire for escalation.

H.R. 6323 —Hamstringing the President’s ability to negotiate with Iran

The House voted 271 to 147 to require the President to obtain a Congressional Resolution of Approval before waiving certain sanctions on Iran if the President determines that such a waiver is vital to national security. This would limit the ability of any administration to negotiate a deal with Iran and ignores the fact that the administration already has to come to Congress for a review if it strikes a deal related to Iran’s nuclear program.

A group of dissenting Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee pointed out in the committee report that the bill relies on two misconceptions: (1) that Biden has weakened sanctions on Iran and (2) that humanitarian exceptions to sanctions are a significant source of funding that allows Iran to support terrorism.

212 Republicans and 59 Democrats voted in favor of it, and 146 Democrats and 1 Republican (Tom Massie) voted against it.

Here are the 59 Democrats who voted for it:

H.R. 4691 — Preventing the President from Adjusting Sanctions on Iran

The House voted 278 to 141 to mandate Congressional review every time the President adjusts sanctions on Iran, including on narrow issues. This time limitation could be particularly damaging in responding to urgent issues, limiting America’s ability to respond effectively and decisively.

As pointed out by the National Iranian-American Council, such a bill would have stalled or blocked steps taken by the US to expand access to anti-surveillance tools to Iranian dissidents in 2022 and prevent quick responses to humanitarian disasters like earthquakes or flooding.

212 Republicans and 66 Democrats voted in favor of the bill, and 140 Democrats and Tom Massie voted against it.

Here are the 66 Democrats who voted for it:

H.R. 5947 — Reneging on a Prisoner Swap with Iran

The House also voted 259 to 160 to force the US to renege on the September prisoner swap deal with Iran. The deal freed five Iranian-American hostages, and the US issued a waiver to allow the transfer of Iranian assets held in South Korea to banks in Qatar, from which they could only be spent on humanitarian goods, or food and medicine. (This is a replay of a vote that happened late last year.)

212 Republicans and 47 Democrats voted for the bill, and 159 Democrats and Tom Massie voted against it.

Here are the 47 Democrats:

HR 6046 — Increasing the Odds of a Famine in Yemen

The House voted 285 to 135 to force the Biden administration to designate the Iran-backed Houthis, who have been attacking ships in the Red Sea, a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). (They currently have a lower terrorist designation.)

As Ranking Democrat on the Foreign Services Committee Gregory Meeks explained in the committee report, such a designation would risk jeopardizing access to lifesaving assistance Yemeni civilians are dependent on for their survival. Given the exposure to criminal consequences that anyone doing business with a FTO faces, many commercial shippers and humanitarian organizations would pull out of Yemen entirely.

213 Republicans and 72 Democrats voted for the bill, and 134 Democrats and Tom Massie voted against it.

Here are the 72 Democrats:

37 Democrats voted YES on all four of Wednesday’s bills:

Other Bills Passed Last Week

In addition to those bills, the House also voted….

  • 406 to 19 to permanently bar the export of US-made technology to Iran. (The opposition came from Massie, the 9-member Squad, and progressives Joaquin Castro, Chuy Garcia, Pramila Jayapal, Hank Johnson, Barbara Lee, Jim-McGovern, Mark Pocan, Jan Schakowsky, and Nydia Velázquez).
  • 407 to 16 to eliminate a sunset in the Iran Sanctions Act that is not due to expire until December 31, 2026. (The opposition came from Massie, the 9-member Squad, and progressives Earl Blumenauer, Chuy Garcia, Jonathan Jackson, Pramila Jayapal, Hank Johnson, and Barbara Lee).
  • 411 to 14 to urge the European Union to expeditiously designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. (The opposition came from Massie, the Squad, and progressives Chuy Garcia, Pramila Jayapal, Hank Johnson, and Barbara Lee.)
  • 408 to 13 to limit the Biden administration’s ability to allow humanitarian exemptions to sanctions on Iran. (The opposition came from Massie, the 9-member Squad, and progressives Chuy Garcia, Pramila Jayapal, and Barbara Lee.)
  • 383 to 11 to expand sanctions against Iran by making it harder for China to purchase Iranian oil. (The 11 consisted of Republican Tom Massie, the 9-member Squad, and Chuy Garcia.)



Jonathan Cohn

Editor. Bibliophile. Gadfly. Environmentalist. Super-volunteer for progressive campaigns. Boston by way of Baltimore, London, NYC, DC, and Philly.